Children can experience incontinence. In fact, 3%- 5% of children aged between 5 and 17 have a daytime wetting problem. One in three of these children will also experience bedwetting.

Bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) happens when the bladder empties without permission during sleep.  Bedwetting is very common with approximately 1 in 5 children in Australia wetting the bed.

Bedwetting is a complex condition that can often be a source of worry for parents and children. Most children will be dry through the day by the age of 3, and dry at night by school age. It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates.

There are three main causes of bedwetting:

  1. The inability to waken to a full bladder
  2. The bladder becomes overactive at night and cannot store urine, or
  3. The kidneys make a large amount of urine at night and the bladder has difficulty holding this.

It is important to seek help for bedwetting if:

  • The child who has been dry suddenly starts wetting at night
  • The wetting is frequent after school age
  • The wetting bothers the child or makes them upset or angry, or
  • The child wants to become dry.

Day wetting is more common in girls than boys, however, boys have more bedwetting than girls. Both of these problems tend to improve with age but children do not necessarily ‘grow out of it.’ Most children have gained daytime bladder control by the age of four. If a child regularly wets during the day after this age, book in to see one of our friendly physiotherapists.​

Over Active Bladder

This occurs when the bladder has problems storing urine. The child has urgency (bursting) and may leak urine on the way to the toilet.  They may also go to the toilet more than eight times per day.

Under Active Bladder

This occurs when the child goes to the toilet infrequently (less than four times a day) and sometimes urine escapes without any warning as the bladder overfills. Urinary tract infection is common.

Bladder Leakage

This can occur if the child is in the habit of putting off going to the toilet and wets when the bladder is overfilled.

Incomplete Emptying of the Bladder

Some children have learned to empty their bladder incompletely and this can also lead to wetting.

Structural problems are rare. However, a medical specialist should manage any child identified as having an anatomical or neurological cause for their incontinence.

Seek professional help from MPFP physiotherapists.

But first, watch your child and take note of his or her bladder and bowel behaviour over a few days.

  • How often does your child go to the toilet?
  • How often is your child wetting?
  • What happens when they wet?
  • How often do their bowels open and is it difficult for your child?
  • How much does your child drink?
  • What type of fluids is your child drinking and when?